Summer is nearly here, which means days at the beach, the pool, or simply hanging out in the backyard. Going barefoot during these warm months can be freeing and fun, but it can also be risky. There are several health hazards associated with going barefoot.
Jarna Rathod-Bhatt, DPM, and Rahul Bhatt, DPM of Apple Podiatry Group, with offices in Arlington, Fort Worth, and Flower Mound, TX, explain these common risks of going barefoot and offer preventive tips for staying safe.
Common injuries and diseases
You expose your feet to various potential injuries and diseases when you go barefoot. Here are some of the most common are:
Cuts and bruises
Walking on rough surfaces like concrete, rocks, or shells can cause cuts and bruises on the soles of your feet.
Hot pavement, sand, or asphalt can burn your feet, leading to blisters and pain. Pavement, especially asphalt, absorbs a lot of heat. On a sunny summer day, the ground can get hotter than the surrounding air — and hot enough to cause the skin to burn.
Walking barefoot in public places like pools, locker rooms, and showers can expose you to fungi that cause infections like athlete's foot and toenail fungus. The CDC reports that fungal toenail infections affect up to 14% of the general population. People with fungal toenails also often have a fungal skin infection on the foot, especially between the toes.
The HPV (human papillomavirus) that causes warts thrives in warm, moist environments like locker rooms and showers, making them more likely to occur when you're barefoot.
Preventing injuries and diseases
There are several steps you can take to prevent these injuries and diseases. Here are some tips to follow:
Wear swim shoes
When at the beach or pool, consider wearing swim shoes to protect your feet from hot sand, sharp shells, and bacteria.
If you're walking on hot pavement or sand, apply sunscreen to the tops of your feet to prevent burns. Even if you wear flip-flops or sandals, the tops of your feet face the sun, making the area especially vulnerable to the sun’s harmful rays.
Avoid sharing footwear
Sharing shoes, flip-flops, or sandals with others can increase your risk of getting fungal infections and warts.
Treating Foot Injuries and Diseases
Going barefoot can be tempting and sometimes necessary, but beware of the potential health hazards. If you have a foot injury or disease, see a the board-certified podiatrist at Apple Podiatry Group. Call us or request an appointment online today.